We hope you had an enjoyable weekend, and that you were able to find some time to relax.
This week, we will get you up to speed on the high capacity well bill that will go to the State Assembly for a vote in tomorrow's session, bring you the latest employment numbers in the state, share a proposal regarding wheel taxes, news regarding the ongoing dairy trade dispute with Canada, and more.
We would also like to remind members that our Capitol Reports, Newsletters, and helpful resources are available on our website at www.WPTonline.org under the Current Members tab. Just enter the member password wpt2016 and enjoy all of the latest news and information in one easy spot.
As always, we hope you find the Capitol Report to be interesting and informative. If there are any topics you would like to share, or if you have any questions or comments, never hesitate to reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
By: John Jacobson
Last week we were able to make more progress on the Personal Property Tax repeal, by meeting with several members of the Joint Finance Committee.
Somebody wrote me an e-mail last week and asked exactly how the money would be made up. In other states who have repealed their personal property taxes, the revenues were made up through sales and other taxes due to business reinvestment.
Let's take a look at Michigan, which repealed the PPT in 2014. In 2015, they estimated that over $600 million in new business investments throughout their state occurred because of the repeal, and 13,000 new jobs were created by small businesses. That's income tax, payroll tax, and sales tax, all going back to their state.
In Wisconsin, how this would work is that the state's general purpose revenue (or GPR) would reimburse the local units of government who would see reduced revenues from repealing the PPT. In other words, there would be no impact at the local level, and new revenues would be realized for via state payroll, income, and sales tax due to small business reinvestment.
As we continue to work with elected officials, we are very mindful of local units of government and their budgetary constraints these days. The last thing we would ever advocate for is a tax cut that would result in property taxes being raised on homeowners. That's why our coalition has adopted an official mission statement affirming that very stance. Take a moment to check out REPEALPPTWI.com when you have a moment.
Last week, WPT was also very happy to debut a new promotional video for our organization. You can view the video by going to WPTonline.ORG. The video will load automatically when you visit our site. We are always looking to strengthen our organization by broadening our membership to include other small businesses throughout the state.
And even though this column is called "LAST WEEK," I will tell you that this week, I am scheduled to appear before two committees, testifying on pieces of legislation that are great property taxpayer protection policies. I will bring you more next week!
As always, if you have any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at email@example.com. I am always available to assist you or discuss anything that might be on your mind!
High-cap well bill to get Assembly vote tomorrow
The full State Assembly tomorrow will get the chance to debate, amend, and vote on the controversial piece of legislation that eases regulations on high-capacity wells in Wisconsin.
The bill was approved by the State Senate last month, and the bill's Assembly companion received a much-publicized joint public hearing in the Assembly last month, as well.
In short, the bill would allow current high-cap well permit holders to make changes or transfer the permit to another person without approval from the DNR. The bill also allows for current permit holders to build replacement wells. In addition to the permitting, the legislation requires the DNR to conduct studies around Wisconsin's most vulnerable waterways and report back to the legislature.
If the bill passes the Assembly tomorrow, it will head to Governor Walker's desk for his signature, which is all but certain.
New bill would require referenda on wheel tax proposals
State Representative Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) last week circulated a bill that would require local governments to ask voters via referendum to approval wheel tax proposals in their communities.
Currently, local governments, including city councils and county boards, can pass these types of taxes the same as any other type of ordinance.
WPT earlier this year outlined the current state of wheel taxes throughout the state in our newsletter. The wheel tax has been around since 1967 in the state, and at the time our article was written 16 communities had implemented wheel taxes, with 13 of them having been enacted within the past two years.
As state funding for local transportation has shrunk, more communities have turned to the wheel tax option as a way to supplement road funding projects on the local level.
But Rep. Michael Schraa believes that the more the public weighs in with their input, the better the process is. His bill is currently being circulated for support throughout the legislature.
Share your thoughts on this proposal in WPT's Weekly Member Poll.
Nearly all displaced milk has a new home
99% of the displaced milk from family farms caught in the crossfire of new Canadian trade regulations has found a new home.
Governor Walker in a statement earlier today thanked dairy processors, as well as DATCP and WHEDA staff for their hard work in finding new customers for those impacted Wisconsin family dairy farms.
Last month, Grassland Dairy announced it could no longer accept milk from dozens of Wisconsin farms beginning today, due to what Governor Walker's office is calling "protectionist dairy trade policies."
"Our dairy industry is second to none and our producers and processors will continue to thrive, as they have for so many generations, as long as there is a level playing field," Governor Walker said. "Canada is our largest trading partner and we want this strong relationship to continue, but we think they're just plain wrong on this issue. Our thanks go our to dairy processors who have stepped up to help Wisconsin farmers in need. I also thank DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel and DATCP staff, as well as WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston and WHEDA staff for their continued hard work and support."
Last week, Governor Walker announced that WHEDA will provide amended loan guarantees to dairy farmers and processors with more favorable terms. Effective immediately, the loan guarantees will help Wisconsin dairy producers and processors access much-needed capital to address current market conditions.
For more information, contact DATCP's Wisconsin Farm Center at 1-800-942-2474.
Share your thoughts in this week's WPT Member Poll.
Wisconsin taxpayers being targeted by nationwide scam
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) is reporting that a number of taxpayers have received calls over the past couple of weeks that have "spoofed" the phone number for DOR's Milwaukee office on caller ID displays.
These scammers are posing as tax agents who claim that the consumer owes back taxes and demand immediate payment over the phone.
In a statement, DOR Secretary Richard Chandler said "The Wisconsin Department of Revenue will not call or e-mail you regarding your tax return. Any phone call or e-mail from someone claiming to be the DOR should be an immediate red flag. DO not give these fraudsters any information."
For any additional information, or if you feel you have been the victim of a scam, please call the DATCP Hotline at 1-800-422-7128, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your thoughts in this week's WPT Member Poll.
WPT Weekly Member Poll Results:
Transportation and budget issues, pension fund manager bonuses, Gov. Walker calling on White House for dairy dispute assistance, building a prison for lease, and the Milwaukee Bucks
Last week, we brought you the news from Joint Finance, whose co-chairs said that transportation will be the biggest challenge in the proposed two-year spending plan. We also brought you the news that Wisconsin's public pension fund managers are set to receive $14 million in bonuses, and asked if you thought this was too much. We also asked for your thoughts on Governor Walker calling on the White House for help with the ongoing Canadian dairy trade dispute, as well as your thoughts on the state's plans to build a new prison, and the Milwaukee Bucks in last week's NBA playoffs.
Let's get down to it!
JFC co-chairs said that transportation will be the biggest challenge this budget. Is this the issue to which you're paying most attention? Or is there another issue?
Surprisingly, over 80 percent said that transportation was the issue to which they were paying most attention. Just under 20 percent said that another issue ranked #1 on their list.
"Hope this includes improving road conditions."
"Roads are in bad shape!"
"I think the big issue is ethics and accountability. There's a lot of waste in government spending that the government isn't aware of, because too many companies just sock it to the government when it comes to contracts. We bid government contracts just like anything else, and are always told we didn't get the job because our wages are too far below "prevailing wage." But it would have SAVED MONEY and had the same quality. I wonder how much this is going on? Is the waste in the millions? Or billions? I just...I think there's got to be a bigger attack on bang for the buck at that level."
"Fix the roads already! Without borrowing more."
"When will the personal property tax go away? What happened to a "no call" list for businesses? Tired of dropping what I am doing to answer the phone, only to hear it's another telemarketer." AMEN TO THAT!
"Transportation & Education"
"Education is by far the most important. Potholes are annoying...having kids with 33 others in one class is an actual tragedy."
Wisconsin's pension fund managers are set to receive $14 million in bonuses this year. Too much?
About 65 percent feel it's too much.
"Who doubles their salary with a bonus. You would have to be a miracle worker and these fund managers are not performing miracles."
"Yes, we get what we pay for, but this seems excessive."
"I agree, you get what you pay for. But when bonuses are more than a good wage, that's too much."
"If you don't have incentivised fund managers at the WI Pension fund then you'll have salaried employees who are not compensated like other fund managers in the larger market. That's the way fund managers are paid int he financial sector."
"This is a tough one to answer, personally it pains me to see that much money going out in the form of bonuses, they already make good money and have great benefits, and I personally have no skin in the game, That being said, I remember when the pension fund was in poor shape and how that impacts the finances of the state. As stated, we get what we pay for, and here it may a little bit of a "necessary evil" to have to pay out in bonsuses yearly to a well managed fund, more than probably 90% of the Wisconsin workforce will make in their entire lifetimes. Is it greed? in may ways it it, but that is how our society chooses to operate. There are many rewards in this life, other than wealth and financial success! I personally am rewarded in other ways, and I'm OK with that."
"I like these newsletters. Don't take this wrong... How can you ask "Is this excessive?" 14 million in BONUSES? Geez... I'd love to get even $1,000 in bonuses... heck, $100.... $10... This is a PRIME reason for a lot of the troubles we're having, because the "fat cats" at the top skim HUGE bonuses that they should never have taken in the first place. It IS excessive. It is an INSULT to the taxpayers. And an insult to the contributors. That money should be parsed down DRASTICALLY, and should NOT be six figures... Put that money back into the pension fund for growth. It's the same with a local "non profit" major hospital system, whose board of directors each took a multi-million dollar bonus every year for the past decade - how much would that money done to LOWER the cost of health care if it was dumped back INTO the health care system instead of lining a few people's pockets? That money isn't theirs - it came from many people paying in, and they are to be stewards of that which isn't theirs. It's the parable of the talents - and these are the servant that had the single talent... their bonus is the same as burying it under the tree. Sad. Reprehensible. More. Wasted. Money."
"Way too much, the average person working doesn't even receive a bonus."
"The bonuses could go to transportation fund. Why is everyone so greedy."
"Seems to be overkill."
"It's a lot of money for a bonus, but the fund is one of the best in the nation! Unlike some other institutions that have paid millions in bonuses to managers that have run them into the ground and into bankruptcy."
"A whopping 95% of fund managers are beaten by simple index investment. NINETY FIVE. Were WI's pension fund managers in the 5? Hell no."
Were you pleased to see Gov. Walker solicit the help of President Trump on the dairy trade dispute with Canada?
Nearly 95% of respondents were glad to see Gov. Walker ask the White House for some help.
"Agriculture is the heartbeat of America."
"With Grassland eliminating dozens of farmer-suppliers of milk because there is no market for the milk...WHY is Grassland "in-on" BUILDING a proposed 5,000 cow Corporate CAFO in Dunn County?"
"Need to solve this problem."
"This will have domino affect in the state."
"But the Canadians are not going to budge from their position because of Trump or anyone else."
"As a former dairy farmer this whole issue hits a nerve with me. If the dairy farmers want the gov't involved in this side of their fight, then they better not be demanding they get to keep their illegally hired workers to do all the work on their farms as well. We have 10 customers that we know have that are impacted by Grassland cutting them off in less than a week now. They are of various size farms, most entire family operations and most with young people who truly have the "guts and desire" to be dairy farmers. Too bad all their hard work is in vain if they cannot a taker for their milk. We have an area dairy looking to add another freestall barn so they milk 24 hours a day and they break the law by hiring illegal workers. This is the reason we need to close our borders, and show a perfect example of how the illegal workers hurt fellow Americans! Shame on any of the greedy large dairy operations that have built their large herds by breaking the laws of our country by hiring illegal workers on their farms and allowing them cheap labor so that they could be at an unfair advantage when compared to the dairy producers who operated within the laws of the land. Don't give me the song and dance that no one would do the work on your farms! Maybe if you would have paid a decent wage and were willing to offer a good legal worker some decent benefits, you would have had people lining up to work on your operation. I was able to make it with a legal worker and sure some months he may have taken home more than I did because the market was bad at that time, but I treated him right, and he loved the work and in turn treated me right as well. Many of the large operations are now crying they cannot operate without the help of illegals, I say too bad, you made your bed now sleep in! You are as much a criminal as the illegals you have working for you! That will have to be between you and your judge someday."
"Hate to see people working so hard having trouble with something like this- aren't we the dairy state?"
"Good to see that the Governor isn't afraid to seek outside help if he needs it or can get it!"
"Same old rhetoric, not that I am aware of."
"Might as well see some benefit out of Trump."
What do you think about Wisconsin building a private prison and then leasing the space, rather than owning the prison?
Over 40 percent didn't know or chose not to respond. Over 30 percent don't like the idea, over 25 percent like it.
"I think we should let a private firm build their own prison and then contract with them to house and over see the prisoners. It would be more cost effective than the other two alternatives."
"Keep the one they own."
"Use what you have now. Use the money for roads."
"Why not stiffen penalties on lawbreakers and ship convicts with life or long sentences out of the country? Open the prisons to the elderly or homeless. Why do we pay for the scum of the earth and give them everything, while people who have worked hard all their lives and sacrificed and been good citizens get nothing when they get older...Thank you very much for being a good citizen!"
"State will still own but won't operate."
"If the accountants say this is a good idea, go for it."
The Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors are tied (2-2) in the best-of-seven game playoff series. Will Milwaukee pull it off?
Only over 20 percent thought the Bucks would win! Now we can blame the other 70-some percent for the loss! What a come-back in the 4th quarter in Game 5. Too bad it didn't result in victory! So what else did you do over the weekend?
"Went to IL to visit daughter in the hospital." Sorry to hear that, we hope everything is okay.
"Don't care...I actually love basketball but not the NBA. It is way too boring and they don't play defense...obviously!"
"Even if they don't pull it off, at least they made the post season! It will help their brand no matter what. I am so far pleasantly surprised by the play of the Milwaukee Brewers, too many errors in the games but hitting has been impressive!"
"Hockey - playoffs are in full swing."
"I watch both the Bucks and the Brewers. better than many other shows on the tube with violence in them."
"Thinking about who "Ice Man Ted" will draft for the Packers"
"The Bucks will find a way to lose."
Latest Wisconsin employment numbers
In February, the U.S added nearly 220,000 jobs, 11,100 of those came from Wisconsin, according the BLS.
But after a giant February for the employment market, the US economists predicting a near-200,000 job bump again in March were wrong. Instead, nationwide, jobs posted 98,000, and Wisconsin lost 2,700.
Wisconsin lost 1,600 jobs, but the overall lost was due to a 3,200 job decline in government positions.
In other employment news, DWD released the estimates of unemployment and employment for metro areas, major cities, and counties.
In metro areas, March 2017 unemployment rates decreased in all areas over the year when compared to March 2016. The biggest decline was Racine's 1.2% drop to 4.5% unemployed. The lowest is Madison at 2.6% unemployment.
In municipalities, March 2017 rates decreased in the largest 32 municipalities compared to March 2017. And in counties, the largest unemployment decline was Bayfield's 2.3 percent drop. Dane had the lowest unemployment at 2.5 percent, and Iron had the highest at 7.9%.
Wisconsin wineries look to change law
Wineries are becoming more popular, and it's not just in Wisconsin. Nationwide, wine purchases are up in a dramatic way over the 20 years, and here in Wisconsin, those numbers reach ten-fold, from 13 wineries to 131.
But a law from the prohibition era is preventing their businesses from expanding, according to local industry experts. The law says they must stop serving by 9PM.
This means, for example, they cannot even serve their own products after 9PM, and it prevents them from jumping into wedding and other niche industries where other beverages are allowed by law.
At least one republican lawmaker plans to introduce a bill later this spring that would remove the prohibition, but some large industries, including MillerCoors, the Tavern League, and Wisconsin Beer Distributors have stood in the way by lobbying against similar proposals in the past. Why? Competition, of course.
Share your thoughts on this evolving issue in this week's WPT Weekly Member Poll.
State building commission approves projects
The stat's Building Commission approved several key projects late last week.
The commission is chaired by Governor Walker, and also includes Senators Terry Moulton, Jerry Petrowski, and Janis Ringhand, as well as Representatives Rob Swearingen, Terry Katsma, Dana Wachs, and citizen member Bob Brandherm.
The projects include infrastructure and maintenance repairs to the Department of Military Affairs, construction of the Williams Fieldhouse Addition Phase II at UW-Platteville, rennovation of Rodli Hall at UW-River Falls, construction of the SE Recreational Facility Replacement at UW-Madison, maintenance and repairs at several UW campuses and elsewhere around the state.